Friday, December 4th, 2009

TUNES RECOVERY PROJECT: Busy Signal – Da Style Deh

We get a shit-ton of comments and linkage and all manner of bollocks when we give a song 4.91, so obviously the traffic for this post will be INSANE, yes?…


Chuck Eddy: This was my TUNES RECOVERY PROJECT pick, and one of the very few dancehall reggae songs I’ve unconditionally loved since, like, ’80s Wayne Smith “Under Me Sleng Teng” days, which probably means I haven’t paid attention to dancehall enough. Anyway, I came across it on an otherwise pretty decent Greensleeves comp called The Biggest Dancehall Anthems 2009, and every time, it leaped way out from the Mavados and Chinos and Vybz Kartels. I want to say it sounds somehow “African” (the drums, the chants), but I’m even less an expert on recent African music than Jamaican, so I can’t get more specific than that. What it really sounds like to me, though, is a reincarnation of the Chips’ non-charting doo-wop novelty “Rubber Biscuits” from 1955, covered by the Blues Brothers into a Top 40 hit in 1979 after showing up in Mean Streets. Which I assume is mere coincidence, unless it isn’t.

Rodney J. Greene: I could dismiss this as not much more than spirited dancehall calling over percolating hand percussion, topped with some particularly goofy Africanesque chants, but luckily for Busy Signal, that’s exactly the sort of shit that makes me grin like a madman.

Martin Skidmore: The lyrics are often nonsense syllables, and I struggle to grasp the rest — maybe this and the style of the female backing are why this kind of reminded me of some South African township jive. Whatever, I wanted it to get punchier, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Ian Mathers: This is just okay until the chorus and the backing vocals come in — then “Da Style Deh” suddenly bursts into life and reveals itself as more fun than, say, 90% of what we get here on the Jukebox. I’m still not wildly enthused about the rest, but the chorus takes up a gratifyingly large proportion of the song.

Edward Okulicz: It’s an African-scented dancehall pastiche with ululating backing vocals and the words appear to be the most euphonious kind of nonsense. Most of its elements are things I can usually take or leave, but for some reason, I’ll take this. Steamy, but very cool with it.

John Seroff: Condensed to a potent bouillon cube of tabla, female choir and Busy Signal’s thick, AutoTuned patois, “Da Style Deh” stands as Exhibit A in the defense that less can be much more. It is simultaneously a hypnotic, a euphoric and a stimulant, a potent medicine that moots analysis. I could certainly wax prolix about the rainstick intricate patter of Busy’s flow; the multi-culti hash of ghazal beats, African chorus and dancehall rhythm; the breathless over-the-waterfall race for a climax that never comes; the satisfaction of listening to lean, heavily-muscled pop that supersedes language and culture like so much pre-millennial red tape. It’s so much more prudent to simply suggest you click the link at the top of this page and just AY LAH LAYLAYLAY LAYLAYLAY LAYLAYLAY * OOH LAHLOOLAHLOO LAHLAHLAH LAHLAHLOW

Alex Ostroff: I’m a sucker for both tabla beats and dancehall vocals, so I’m predisposed to love this. The shimmering Ladysmith Black Mambazo harmonies make this even more exuberant and sunny, as do the gibberish le-le-le’s and loo-lal-loo’s throughout the chorus. Such is the joyousness of the song that lyrics about a horny girl who wants Busy Signal to send his cock up in her belly fail to register. It’s like a filthy version of Paul Simon’s Graceland.

Michaelangelo Matos: My usual problems penetrating patois prevent me from diving all the way into this, but leave that aside and what’s here is plainly gorgeous: minimalist conga-tabla groove, Auto-tuning that dusts the edges of Busy Signal’s voice (and the background singers’?) with powdered sugar, a ululating chorus that could have flown in from classic calypso or a late Hollywood musical.

Alex Macpherson: It’s amazing how sparseness in club tracks concentrates both the mind and the body. With so little present beyond those odd waves of percussion like bubbles rising in a hot tub, it’s almost incumbent on you to fill in the gaps by dancing against the space. Busy Signal’s wonderfully spontaneous-sounding call-and-response is an excellent guide.

Jordan Sargent: For a song that could boil over, “Da Style Deh” instead chooses to simmer. The tribal drums and wordless chants compete as much for your attention as does the empty space, which allows Busy Signal’s thick voice to fill the room like smoke.

Matt Cibula: The only thing better than hearing this dropped into the mix at a club would be hearing it on one’s local 104.1 FM station. There’s no forward motion, no narrative, no drama, but a hell of a lot of all the stuff that matters.

8 Responses to “TUNES RECOVERY PROJECT: Busy Signal – Da Style Deh”

  1. Funny Chuck should mention the African sound – I last heard this out at Rhumble” (“an African/Caribbean soundclash…Zouk, Highlife, Hiplife, Coupe-Decale, Soukous, Afro-Beat, Afro-Funk & london funky will all be represented here…because they are all linked!”), and it fit perfectly into the African music played.

    It’s been a great year for dancehall imo, or maybe it’s been a great year for me following the Heatwave blog.

  2. I love the drum circle and ecstatic chanting stuff on this track! It reminds me of a band you guys might like – they’re called Animal Collective – have you heard of them?

  3. Love you guys.

  4. Actually, Chips and the Blues Brothers only sang about one rubber biscuit each, not plural. (Never even heard the Chips version until this year, on a 1979 Adam VIII Records double-LP vinyl comp I bought for $2 at a Goodwill Store, called The Original Toga Party.)

    Also, the Greensleeves CD comp I first heard Busy Signal’s track on is actually called The Biggest Ragga Dancehall Anthems 2009, except the word “ragga” is written in a much smaller, differently colored typeface intentionally imperceptible to 49-year-old eyes on the first several views. I still have no idea what “ragga” means, and its use here confuses me even more — here, apparently it’s just a different way to spell “reggae.”

    Finally, if Animal Collective actually have any songs that sound like this record, I’d love to know what they are. Ones I’ve heard (admittedly not many) didn’t come close.

  5. They really don’t (although awesome joke, Tom), but the closest they came was probably Feels.

  6. Never heard of this guy but he has a great voice and the Ladysmith Black Mambazo shit works really well

  7. Busy Signal’s quietly put together quite the discography over the couple of years – he often gets overlooked compared to Mavado, who codes Serious Artist much more, and while I think Mavado’s Jamaican gothic thing is hugely affecting, Busy is much more versatile and varied…the best this year was “Picante”; there’s also “Wine Pon Di Edge” (frantic autotune ragga), “These Are The Days” (Busy can be as gothic and doomy as Mavado when he wants), “Missing You” (lilting lovers’ rock), “Send It On” (carnival anthem), “Tic Toc” and its accompanying Greenmoney Remix (nb: the mp3 of this is v easy to google), and probably my favourite of his tracks, “Unknown Number (Private Call)”, which or a spell this time last year I took to muttering whenever PRs called me from withheld numbers.

  8. […] Mark Mallman – White Leather Days [4] The Cast of Glee – Don’t Stop Believing [3] Busy Signal – Da Style Deh […]